By Aynur Jafarova
Azerbaijani President paid a two-day working visit to China to attend the 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) on May 20-21.
President Ilham Aliyev was accompanied by First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva.
President Aliyev first met with Chinese President Xi Jinping, who said Chinese and Azerbaijani people were linked by the Great Silk Road 2,000 years ago.
"Our countries have constantly promoted friendship and cooperation in the spirit of equality, mutual benefit, and respect for 22 years. At present, we have a very solid base of political relations and high level of mutual trust, and there is great fruition of practical cooperation," he noted in his speech.
Xi also said China attaches great importance to the development of relations with Azerbaijan.
"We appreciate and thank you for your strong support on such key and important issues as Xinjiang and Tibet," he noted.
Addressing the meeting, President Aliyev said Azerbaijan is committed to a policy of cooperation with China in all areas.
"We want to develop and deepen bilateral cooperation and are willing to take specific steps in this direction," he noted.
The sides discussed the expansion of relations between Azerbaijan and China in energy, infrastructure, transport, technology, investment, humanitarian, and other spheres, and the increase of trade and mutual support in international organizations.
During the meeting, the presidents also exchanged views on international affairs, including the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and other issues of mutual interest.
Later, President Aliyev and his spouse attended a reception in honor of the Heads of State attending the summit.
President Aliyev attended the 4th Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia.
Opening the summit, Jinping welcomed the heads of delegations.
Highlighting the importance of security in the world, he said it is possible to realize this goal through dialogue and multilateral cooperation.
He also noted cooperation at regional and international levels should be the main element of the policies pursued by the participating countries.
In his speech, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the Conference provides opportunities for adopting a new security concept.
President Aliyev also addressed the meeting, calling the development of Azerbaijani-Chinese relations in the political, economic, humanitarian, and other spheres gratifying.
"At the same time, we are successfully cooperating in the framework of international organizations. In the last two years, we have worked together in the United Nations Security Council," he noted.
President Aliyev also spoke about security measures in Asia, calling it a part of the global security.
"We are in favor of a comprehensive approach to security. Issues such as the fight against terrorism, regional, energy, transport and information security, and settling "frozen" conflicts are closely linked to each other and necessitate a common position for the security of mankind," he stressed.
He also said Azerbaijan supports the consolidation of efforts for combating international terrorism.
"Azerbaijan has been a victim of terror itself. Just in the years of independence, Armenian terrorist organizations which work under the leadership of state bodies have carried out more than 30 terrorist attacks against Azerbaijan, in which more than 2,000 people were killed," he said.
"These acts of terror are a part of Armenia's aggressive policy towards Azerbaijan. As a result of this policy, 20 percent of Azerbaijan's territories, Nagorno-Karabakh, which is our historical land, and seven adjacent regions, have been occupied by Armenia. A policy of ethnic cleansing has been carried out on those lands. More than 1 million people in the country have become refugees and IDPs. The Armenian armed forces committed an act of genocide against the civilian population of Khojaly in February 1992. As a result of this genocide, 613 innocent people were killed. Today, over 10 countries have officially recognized the Khojaly massacre as an act of genocide," the President noted.
He went on to say that the international community and international organizations recognize Azerbaijan's territorial integrity and advocate a just settlement of the conflict in accordance with international law.
"In connection with the conflict, there are four UN Security Council resolutions and relevant decisions and resolutions of the Non-Aligned Movement, the OSCE, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and other international organizations. I also want to thank CICMA member-states for their support for a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the basis of the norms and principles of international law.
"The negotiations held with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group have yet to make headway. Armenia is not interested in resolving the conflict. Our firm position is that the conflict should be resolved only in accordance with international law and within the framework of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity.
"Despite the conflict, Azerbaijan has undergone a period of rapid development in recent years. Our economy has grown more than three times and the unemployment and poverty rates have dropped to 5 and 5.3 percent. This development has been achieved thanks to Azerbaijan's stability. These achievements reinforce our stability at the same time," he said.
Touching upon various international projects in which Azerbaijan acts as participant and initiator, President Aliyev said. "They have already laid a solid foundation for greater regional cooperation."
"In particular, I want to point to the projects related to energy security. By completely redrawing the energy map of the South Caucasus and the broader region, these projects have become very important examples of cooperation that benefits all the participants. Our partners in Asia account for approximately 28 percent of the country's oil exports. Thus, Azerbaijan contributes to the energy security of Asian countries. I think this cooperation still has great prospects," the Azerbaijani President added.
He went on to say that Azerbaijan, a transit country linking Asia to Europe, plays an important role in the transport security between the two continents.
"Azerbaijan is building the largest port on the Caspian Sea. The International Trade Seaport, which is under construction in Alat near Baku, will increase the volume of cargo to 10 million tons at the first stage and 20 million tons at the second stage. Also, a new terminal opened at the Heydar Aliyev International Airport in Baku in April," he noted.
President Aliyev also informed the guests about the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway, Azerbaijan's telecommunications satellite, and the Trans-Eurasian Information Super Highway (TASIM) project.
At the end of the summit, the participants adopted a Declaration which reflects important provisions for Azerbaijan.
"We are concerned about the unresolved conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan and its existence as a threat to international and regional security. We support resolving this conflict peacefully based on the principles and norms of international law and the resolutions and documents adopted in this framework. To this end, we urge the OSCE Minsk Group to redouble their efforts to resolve the conflict," the document says.
The CICA is a multi-national forum for enhancing cooperation towards promoting peace, security and stability in Asia. It is a forum based on the recognition that there is close link between peace, security and stability in Asia and in the rest of the world.
The idea of convening the CICA was first proposed by Nursultan Nazarbayev, President of Kazakhstan, in October 1992, at the 47th Session of the UN General Assembly.